This year marked our first spring planting season at our new home.
I was intent on growing herbs and getting a vegetable or two into the ground. So with a deep breath and a huge leap of faith, I kept my ambitions low, stayed focused and started small.
My husband built me two wood boxes and with that, our adventure was underway.
Having had a high success rate for growing weeds in the past (you know the mint and clover variety of ground cover that you can’t kill no matter how hard you try) and an abysmal success rate for keeping anything otherwise edible/desirable alive — how about some basil or cilantro for a change? — I entered the fray somewhat weary but not ambivalent. This is California after all. I can do this.
And then it happened. Just like that. Within one month, growth was so abundant that I found myself making herb bouquets for our neighbors — (waaa?) I felt like I was starring in somebody else’s garden show and I liked it — a lot.
Fast forward 6 weeks from our original planting date and we now have three boxes, 13 different herb and vegetable varieties growing and tomato plants that are hip high — little miracles, each and every one of them.
So today, a celebration of spring, growth and green with this garden fresh frittata! (aka: quiche’s sexier Italian cousin).
Of course with the frittata, much like its fussier kin the omelet and its more matronly cousin the quiche, (I do love quiche incidentally), you can truly make it your own by working with whatever seasonal or preferred ingredients you wish.
Ideal for serving a group, the gorgeous golden-rimmed frittata is a breeze to make and works well not only for breakfast/brunch but for any meal of the day. Leftovers are also delicious.
The hallmark of the frittata is that it is crustless and its contents are sautéed prior to hitting the oven. Beyond that, it’s a bit of a rebel among egg pies and all rules are subject to interpretation (well, at least in my world view with deference to all Italian grandmothers out there).
I want to dedicate this post to mothers around the globe — those who are still with us and those we carry in our hearts. And to all of our sisters, aunts, cousins, nieces, friends and loved ones who have acted as mentors in our lives. Thank you.
- 1 heaping cup chopped leek (1 stalk should do it)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and salted
- ½ pound asparagus (about 10 spears), cut into 1 inch pieces
- 8 (or more) cheery tomatoes, cut in half
- 10 large fresh eggs
- ⅓ cup half and half cream (10%)
- pinch of fresh grated nutmeg, optional
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (or cheese of choice)
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
- 2 tsp fresh oregano (or other herb of choice), minced
- 1 ounce feta cheese (or cheese of choice)
- sea salt & black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 F
- Warm a 10" cast iron skillet (or oven proof skillet of choice) over low-medium heat making sure to grease sufficiently with oil or butter (I used coconut oil)
- Sauté leek, onion and garlic in the skillet over low-medium heat, just until the onion/leek become translucent being careful not to scorch the garlic, about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and toss with veggies for a minute or two just until it brightens.
- Meanwhile whisk together: eggs, cream, nutmeg, 1 Tbsp parsley, oregano, sea salt & coarse black pepper together in a bowl.
- Add the grated Parmesan to the egg mixture and combine.
- Pour egg mixture into the skillet over the vegetables and cook for only 3 or 4 minutes over low-medium heat -- resist the urge to stir -- instead, draw a heatproof spatula across the bottom of the skillet in 3 or 4 long, deliberate strokes, pushing the cooked eggs toward the center and allowing the runny parts to gather underneath - this prevents scorching on the bottom of your frittata.
- Remove the skillet from heat and sprinkle the egg surface (which will still be runny in the center and barely set around the edges) with crumbled feta and then dot with tomatoes, as desired.
- Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the egg mixture is puffed and beginning to take on a golden brown appearance (particularly around the edges).
- Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, top with remaining sprinkle of fresh parsley.
- Run a spatula around skillet edge to loosen the frittata, then carefully slide it out onto a serving plate to cut and serve.
Sauté to remove excess water - vegetables contain a lot of water, (notably: mushrooms & zucchini), sautéing them prior to baking the frittata allows much of this water to be released so that you don't end up with a soggy mess during the baking process.
Leek Prep - to prepare leeks, cut the ends off (the roots) and darker green tops (you can reserve for stock). Be sure to rinse thoroughly as leeks can be sandy. Slice the white/yellow part of the leek in half lengthwise (and then again if still large) and then chop the long pieces, widthwise.
Leek Nutrition - leeks form part of the powerful allium family together with its confrères garlic, onion and chives - a class of vegetables which are rich in phytonutrients and operate as antioxidants in the body. This s one sexy allium rich pie!
Smashing Garlic - I recommend smashing the garlic (as distinct from running it through a garlic press) for two reasons. I love the chunkier texture of the garlic and chopping/slicing the garlic cloves alone without first flattening it (smashing/crushing) will not release the allium's beneficial oils. To smash, simply use the flat side of a large knife and carefully press down on the garlic over a cutting board until it breaks/flattens somewhat. Sprinkle with sea salt which will absorb beautifully into the oils and then chop or slice the garlic.